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Evaluating Your Sources: What is Peer Review?

This guide's purpose is to assist students with evaluating sources and distinguishing among peer-reviewed, trade, and popular sources online and in print.

Peer Review

"Peer review" (or "refereed") means that an article is reviewed by experts in that field before the article gets published. This means that if a scientist writes an article on stem cells, other experts on stem cells will review the article to make sure it’s of high enough quality to be published.  The peer review (or referee) process ensures that the research described in a journal's articles is sound and of high quality.

 

Types of Peer Review 

 

Single-blind 

  • Reviewers know who wrote the article. 

 

Double-blind

  • Reviewers do not know who wrote the article. 
  • Designed to increase objectivity in the review process. 

 

Searching for Peer-Reviewed Articles

Many databases available through GALILEO give you the option to search for only peer reviewed items.  

For example: 

  • Enter your search terms (keywords)
  • Click on the box beside Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals
  • You can also select the option for peer reviewed from your results screen

 

Advanced Search in Academic Search Complete. Towards the bottom of the screen there is an option for Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals. It is circled in red.

 

Using Ulrich's to Check Peer Review Status

You can search in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (Ulrichsweb) to see if the article is Refereed (Peer Reviewed).

  • Go to Ulrich's
  • Enter the title of the journal into the search box
    • Do not search for the article title. If you are unsure which title is the journal title, ask a librarian
  • Click the magnifying glass icon
  • Look in the search results for the correct journal title 
    • Some journals have very similar names, librarians can help you find the correct journal.
  • If the journal is peer-reviewed there will be a black and white icon next to the title
    • You can click on the journal title to see more information. Look for the Refereed under the Basic Description. If it says Refereed and Yes, then the journal is peer-reviewed.

 

Screenshot from Ulrich's. A red circle surrounds a referee shirt with a line and text that says This title is refereed (peer reviewed). There is a second red circle around a corresponding blank space with the words This title is not refereed (peer reviewed)

Notes:

  • Ulrich's uses the word Refereed.
    • Refereed is the same as peer-reviewed. 
  • When a journal is peer-reviewed, it means that most of the articles published in it are peer-reviewed. Other content, such as editorials, letter to the editor, and responses to previously published articles, are not peer-reviewed.

 

Peer Review and Other Journal Information From Database

Some databases will tell you if the article is in a peer-reviewed journal. 

  • Click on the article title to see more information about the article.
  • Click on the Journal title
    • In some databases you will see more information about the journal, including if it is peer reviewed.
    • In other databases, clicking on the journal title runs a search for all articles published in that title.

 

Journal Title Information:

Publication Details for Sport Psychologist. Provides information like ISSN, Publisher Information, Bibliographic Records, Publication Type  - this journal is an Academic Journal, Subjects, Description, Publisher URL, Frequency, and Peer Reviewed. At the bottom Peer Reviewed is circled in Red and next to it, it says yes.